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Our Philosophy

Tustin Community Preschool's philosophy is simple: The best way to prepare children for life and to become independent thinkers is to allow them to develop at their own pace through playtime and creative expression. We offer a hands-on approach in a developmental environment, nurturing all sides of the mind, body and spirit.


Because we recognize the importance of human development within the early childhood years, TCP's program is structured around helping each child reach their highest potential through the exploration of their natural abilities and curiosities.

Our mission is to provide an enriching and stimulating developmental preschool experience for young children through dedicated and committed parent participation.

What is a Co-Op? And Why a Co-Op?

A cooperative preschool, or "co-op", is one at which parents work as volunteers on a rotating basis fulfilling jobs both in and out of the classroom. 

Q: Is your family right for a parent participation or "co-op" preschool? 
A: In a parent participation preschool, each family is involved in the planning and operation of the school. In the day-to-day running of the school, parents work under the supervision of one of our very experienced teachers and/or director.


Additionally, each parent takes on a job at the school to ensure that we maintain a fun, fully-enriching environment for our children. This can be anything from a board director position (Each year, the parents form a board of directors and are active in all decision-making at either the board or general membership level) to maintaining the classroom art area, to serving on a committee such as Curriculum or Ways & Means. For TCP to run smoothly, every parent's contribution and commitment is important. This is what drives the developmental enrichment program that we are committed to providing for all of our children. Finally, all parents participate in fundraising and event activities as needed.


Q: What makes the ideal TCP working parent? 
A parent that stays at home, works part-time or has flexible work hours makes an ideal candidate. If you love to volunteer and get involved with your child, and aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, then you will love this school. We also need parents that can "love up" all the kids in the class – not just their own.


Q: What does a parent participation program offer? 
The child learns to communicate and be social not only with other children, but with adults outside of their family as well.


There is tremendous benefit in learning about how your child develops, how the educational process begins, and in being able to watch your child change and grow along with their friends.


TCP families create a community within the school, and we all work together to help nurture all of our children. Bonds of friendship and community are created quickly in this setting, providing both children AND parents with a supportive network of peers. We all share a common goal: to raise our kids in the developmentally enriching environment of which we all become a part. In other words, TCP becomes as much a learning experience for the parents as it does the child.


The Developmental Approach

The study of child development is the exploration of how children grow and develop naturally as they age from infancy to adulthood, reaching milestones at different stages of growth. Tustin Community Preschool takes that knowledge, through the experience and background of our teachers and director, and creates a program that takes into consideration the maturation process for each child's own level. So, rather than force a learning process that a child is not developmentally or chronologically ready to embrace, we instead encourage a learning process through thoughtful playtime, creative experiences and sensory discovery. By doing what is age-appropriate, your child will become confident and socially ready to handle life's next venture without losing their childhood. This type of "open-ended" learning will encourage your child to use their own amazing brain.

Ms. Shelley Burnett


Shelley Burnett – lovingly referred to as Ms. Shelley, and known for her warmth and enthusiasm with children and parents alike – has been a part of the TCP family for many years. First, as a mother with two of her sons attending the preschool, and then in 1999, she joined the team as the Parent/Toddler Teacher. Ms. Shelley brings with her a background in child development and has been recognized by the State of California as Teacher of the Year in 2008. Along with her husband and their three adult sons, Shelley is a long-time resident of Tustin.

In 2013 she took on the role of Director and 3 Day Class Teacher. With fresh new ideas and a strong foundation in beloved TCP traditions, Ms. Shelley's passion for children and love for the school will take TCP into the next 50 years of playing to learn.


Ms. Lizette Sosa


Ms. Lizette has been part of our TCP family since 2015, when her oldest daughter Sophia was a student here, she became part of the Curriculum Committee, where she would help put together the weekly projects. She says that one of her favorite parts of this job was to see how each child transformed that project into something different and made it their own. Moreover, for two years Ms. Lizette and her family briefly moved to North Carolina but made their way back to sunny California and back to this magical place. Now, both her younger daughters are students of TCP and love creating glittery master pieces and dance parties. 


One of the many things Ms. Lizette enjoys the most when working at TCP is learning from the children, she believes that children have many valuable lessons that will allow us to see the world through a more noble and creative way. She is always looking forward for the new adventure the children will take her on. 


Ms. Lizette earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Heath Science with emphasis in Community Health Education from Cal State Long Beach, where she also met her husband. During her undergrad education she was part of the planning committee for various community outreach programs through the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientist. The events were designed to attract children’s curiosity in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering. Ms. Lizette would also volunteer in a weekly STEM outreach program at the middle school near Cal State Long Beach. Presently, she is continuing her education and pursing her Bachelor’s of Art in Education with emphasis in Childhood Education. 


Ms. Lynelle Miliate-Ha


Like all of our staff, Ms. Lynelle joined TCP as an unsuspecting parent and after 3 years, she realized she loved TCP too much to ever leave! She has an unconventional background, with an MFA and a Master's belt in Kung Fu, and these experiences, combined with raising her own tiny humans, have given her a unique approach to guiding the parent toddler class. Ms. Lynelle's martial arts background included over a decade of teaching parent and child classes, with an emphasis on helping children understand how to move and use their bodies. These experiences aided her in her role as TCP's gross motor skill momma, and continue to influence her very physical teaching style. Overall, she believes that life is an adventure, and she is honored to have the chance to lead toddlers, and their parents, on what are truly the first steps of a lifetime of exploring their world together. 

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